According to a paper published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience, a study by an international team of researchers led by geography experts from the University of Cambridge, UK, found that summer droughts in Europe due to climate change are the worst in the past 2110 years. The summer drought has had devastating ecological and economic consequences, and the situation will continue to worsen.
Image from: Southern Metropolis Daily
Scientists from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland reportedly studied more than 27,000 measurements of carbon and oxygen isotope ratios from 147 live and dead European oak trees. The oak samples came from archaeological remains, subfossil material, historic buildings and live trees from the Czech Republic and southeastern Bavaria, Germany, dating from 75 B.C. to 2018.
The researchers extracted and analyzed the carbon and oxygen isotopes in each tree ring of each tree, and the chemical characteristics of the rings can reveal what the climate conditions were like in each year of the tree"s life.
The paper's author, Professor Ulf Bntgen of the University of Cambridge's Department of Geography, said the findings suggest that what has been experienced over the past five summers is unusual for Central Europe in terms of continuous dryness.
It is reported that the study found that the sudden intensification of drought conditions in 2015, more than anything seen in the past 2,000 years, is likely due to climate change.
Europe experienced severe summer heat waves and droughts in 2003, 2015 and 2018, which affected the agricultural sector and the wine and forestry industries.
Experts say Europe's recent summer drought has had devastating ecological and economic consequences, and the situation is set to worsen as the global climate continues to warm.
Over the past 2110 years, tree-ring isotope data are reported to show that Europe has also had very wet summers, such as 200, 720, and 1100 AD, and very dry summers, such as 40, 590, 950, and 1510 AD, but overall Europe has been slowly becoming drier.
Samples between 2015 and 2018 show that the recent summer drought was far more severe than any year in 2110.
Researchers say the recent unusually dry summer is likely the result of human-caused warming, and the associated changes in the location of the jet stream. The jet stream is a band of strong winds between 5 and 7 miles above the Earth, blowing from west to east.
The team said the atmospheric circulation over Europe and the location of the jet stream are the main drivers of the historical occurrence of droughts in the region.
Professor Ulf Bntgen says that climate change does not necessarily mean that everywhere will become drier - some places may become wetter or colder - but that extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could have devastating effects on agriculture, ecosystems and society as a whole.